Tag Archives: environment

Have a family picnic in a #pbcPark!

Picnicking is a great family activity! It’s a great opportunity to get away from the traditional setting of a dinner table and head out to a natural environment.

Benefits of picnicking:
  • Spend time outdoors in a serene setting: being outdoors has been proven to boost moods, reduce stress levels, and improve overall mental wellness. This is a chance for you and your family to be away from the stresses of every day life and enjoy a natural setting. 
  • Bond with family members: because many people live fast-paced lifestyles, there aren’t many opportunities to slow down and spend meaningful time with the people who matter. Play games, get up and walk, or simply sit still and bond over a good meal. 
  • Communicate more effectively: small talk, or even deep conversations, are essential to any good picnic. Head out and learn more about what’s going on with your family members – whether it’s school, work or friends – this is a great opportunity to connect with the people you care about and encourage effective communication skills in kids. 
  • Develop healthy eating habits: instead of buying a pre-made meal to enjoy on a picnic, try preparing a meal for your next picnic trip. Meals prepared at home are typically healthier and more nutritious than pre-made meals. Make sure you include all the basics for a full, healthy meal. 
  • Encourage active lifestyles: having group or family picnics consistently can allow families to form traditions that are passed down from generation to generation; make picnics a habit and turn it into an outing! Bring supplies for games like tug-of-war, soccer or football and encourage the kids to get up before eating to fit in some physical activity during the picnic. 
Where to picnic at #pbcParks:

Picnic areas are available at no charge from sunrise until sunset on a first-come, first-served basis at the following park locations. Visit this page fore a list of all picnicking locations in our parks:  http://discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Amenities/Picnicking.aspx.

Check out municipal parks in or near your town or city for additional picnicking locations.

————————————————————————

Note: please do not feed wild or stray animals. Animals that are fed can become aggressive and harass people. Wild or stray animals can become extremely territorial and bite the hand that feeds them. This can transmit disease. Animals that become used to human contact are susceptible to disease, injury, and random acts of violence.  The survival skills of wild animals are threatened when they lose the ability to forage naturally for food. This can happen when they are fed by hand or when they eat food left out for stray or abandoned pets. Stray animals hunt and kill native wildlife, even when well fed.

Green Cay Nature Center hosts ‘Project WILD’ Workshops

“I cannot remember the last time I sat in a classroom for seven hours…and enjoyed every (exhausting) minute! Green Cay’s incredible Naturalist, Jessica Andreasen, taught a motivating, inspiring program, “Project Wild” to a group of educators, environmentalists, and others who cherish our wetlands. It was a wonderful and very meaningful experience! Jessica, you are an incredibly gifted teacher!”
-Shelley Hymowitz, Volunteer, Green Cay Nature Center.


20170620_095452_Edited.jpg

Staff at Green Cay Nature Center are helping educators teach students HOW to think, not WHAT to think, when it comes to conservation and the environment. The nature center recently hosted a Project WILD workshop for Palm Beach County educators to help integrate wildlife-based environmental and conservation education in their classrooms.

On June 20th, Green Cay Nature Center welcomed 20 educators from the Palm Beach County School District, home school, Broward 4-H, AmeriCorps and several nature centers for an educational, fun and action-packed day-long training, hosted by naturalist Jessica Andreasen. Jessica taught Aquatic WILD and Flying WILD, which covers wetland and bird topics – making Green Cay a great venue for the lessons.

“When I remember all the people who inspired me to pursue a career in environmental education, I am proud to bring Project WILD to Green Cay as a host site and have this incredible opportunity,” Jessica said, adding that she is grateful for the opportunity “to not only teach children, but now guide educators towards incorporating these important topics into their classrooms.”

Jessica will hold a Project WILD workshop at least once a year, and already uses a lot of the activities for Green Cay’s school, public and specialty programs. Facilitators like Jessica must attend a certification program, a day-long “Train-The-Trainer” class, in order to host their own workshop.

20170620_104138_edited.jpg

In addition to Aquatic WILD and Flying WILD, a new topic will be introduced as continuing education for those who have taken the core workshops. Conserving WILD covers current conservation issues, environmental policy, and conservation-based activities that can be found in all four activity guides. This workshop will discuss the importance of incorporating a conservation message into every activity to help children not only learn about the topic, but to also understand the need for conservation and preservation efforts.

“It is my hope that by being an advocate for Project WILD activities, we can work with educators to find creative but easy ways to encourage the next generations to be passionate about wildlife, conservation and the environment,” Jessica said.

About Project WILD19400534_1439646286097012_7208021712814310910_o_edited.jpg

Project WILD, which stands for Wildlife in Learning Design, is an internationally-used environmental education program aimed at arming both formal and informal educators alike with the knowledge and skills to teach environmental education in their own classrooms. These activities are ideal for many audiences: formal K-12 classroom instruction, non-formal teaching, and summer camp programs emphasizing the environment.

Project WILD Florida is sponsored by the Council for Environmental Education, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN). Through this sponsorship, all the books and materials for this workshop were free of charge, giving facilitators like Jessica the opportunity to reach a larger audience by being able to offer the workshops with no associated costs to the participants. The Friends of Green Cay Nature Center sponsored the workshop with refreshments.

For more information about Project WILD, visit these links:

http://www.projectwild.org/

http://myfwc.com/education/educators/project-wild/

For more information about the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, including efforts to promote stewardship of natural, archaeological and cultural sites, visit pbcParks.com.

Where to See and Interact with Live Animals in #pbcParks

 

Riverbend_Park_1.JPGAnimals abound in #pbcParks! As stewards of natural habitats, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation strives to maintain the habitats of a variety of animals that live in and frequent our parks and nature centers. Conserving these habitats makes visitors more aware of the ecosystem in Palm Beach County, and visiting children and families get a fun, educational experience that generates interest in contributing to conservation efforts. Find out where you can see all sorts of animals in our parks & facilities.

Interact with animals in our Nature Centers

  • Okeeheelee Nature Center: OKNC is situated inside Okeeheelee Park in West Palmokeeheelee_nature_center_2 Beach. Parents and kids have a number of opportunities to see and interact with animals inside the facility, and spot plenty of animals around the park and nature center. The nature center offers programs like deer and raptor walks where parents and kids can get a behind-the-scenes look at the center’s deer and raptor compounds, and free guided nature walks through the Pine Flatwoods Forest to learn about the plants and animals living there. Reptiles, raptors and deer are just a few of the animals kids and parents can learn about while visiting OKNC exhibits, as well as while talking to our passionate naturalists.
  • Daggerwing Nature Center: Venture out to Daggerwing Nature Center in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park, west of Boca Raton, and explore the grounds Daggerwing_Nature_Center_9.JPGto spot the famous Daggerwing Butterfly, turtles, birds, snakes and more, in and around the facility. Inside, visit the exhibit hall, where you can see live reptiles and more, a bee theater, leaf rubbings and a nature video. Outdoors, gaze at the Florida Federation of Gardens Certified Butterfly Garden, where you’ll find a variety of the beautiful winged creatures. There is also a 40-acre nature preserve outside the facility, as well as a 0.6-mile boardwalk and observation tower, which is a great opportunity to spot wild birds, turtles, insects and others in their natural habitats.
  • Green Cay Nature Center: Located in Boynton Beach, Green Cay Nature Center is similar to Daggerwing and Okeeheelee Nature Centers. In addition to the animals you can see and interact with at the facility’s exhibits and during special GreenCay_Nature_Center_4.jpgprograms, the mile-long Chickee Hut Trail and 1/2 mile-long Tropical Hammock Trail allows visitors to spot all sorts of wildlife livingin marsh, open water pond areas, forested wetlands, and tree islands. Waterfowl, diving birds, moorhens, sparrows and more thrive in these environments, and bobcats have been found hiding within the shrubbery. Visit Green Cay Nature Center’s Bird Checklist on pbcparks.com, and you’ll find there are dozens of birds to be discovered in and around the facility.

Live animals in popular #pbcParksRiverbend_Park_2.JPG

  • Riverbend Park: A massive 665-acre park located in Jupiter, a trip to Riverbend Park will always be accompanied by a plethora of different animal species. Walk, bike or jog through the many trails where you and your family can spot deer, rabbits, turkeys, as well as other wild birds, insects and reptiles. Adjacent to Riverbend Park is Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park, where you’ll be able to see much of the same wildlife. Choose to go kayaking at Riverbend Park, and you’ll most likely spot some interesting fish, turtles, and other water wildlife.
  • Regional Parks: regional parks such as John Prince Park in Lake Worth, Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, and Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park in Boca Raton provide the perfect opportunities to spot squirrels, lizards and wild birds, which can all be spotted from safe distances. Walk through paved trails at each of these parks and find all sorts of beautiful and interesting creatures!jpp_squirrel

For more about spotting and interacting with animals in our parks and nature centers, visit pbcParks.com.

#pbcParks Contributes to Environmental Sustainability

The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department strives to keep the plants and animals that contribute to important ecosystems thriving for generations. Our efforts help reveal a connection between park visitors and natural environments to create an appreciation and promote stewardship – because everyone deserves a healthy home.

The Office of Public Engagement created this 60-second public service announcement to depict our devotion to promoting and protecting Palm Beach County’s beautiful environmental spaces. The video includes original artwork and animation created by intern Carlos Duenas, Jr. with a voice over by Public Relations Specialist Bibi Baksh.

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Keep America Beautiful Grant, UPS Foundation Help Plant Trees in Stub Canal Park

New trees, plants, and mulch are now in Palm Beach County’s Stub Canal Park, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Keep America Beautiful and UPS Foundation volunteers.

The trees and plants were planted in early October at the West Palm Beach park, which includes green space and a boat ramp popular among skiers.

“Trees are probably the best fight that we have against things like climate change and also provide a wonderful canopy for the recreational users of our parks here in Palm Beach County,” said Lourdes Ferris, Executive Director of Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful.

For more about this wonderful volunteer project, watch this short video!

The mission of the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department is to make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations. Visit pbcParks.com for more information.

Summer Travels: Into the Land that is Japan \(^.^)/

By Gina Musick, Education Intern for Summer Tour Plus 2016 Program via Summer Travels: Into the Land that is Japan \(^.^)/ — Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

img_1878-e1475684583921

Hello everyone! My name is Gina Musick and I am a new volunteer, but as a seasoned Morikami member and Elementary Education major in college, I saw an amazing opportunity in front of me when I read about a posting for an Education Intern for their Summer Tour Plus program. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a tour! A wonderful tour where both docents and volunteers come together in order to create a fun, interactive, and educational experience for visiting camps of all ages into the land of Japan in South Florida.

Imagine visiting another country for almost the whole summer with nothing but the clothes on your back…without leaving your home state! “Impossible!” is what some may say, but that’s exactly how it felt for me. Walking up the steps to the museum alone is a stunning view, surrounded by a preview of the gardens and a small koi pond. Morikami creates a one-of-a-time experience that children of all ages and backgrounds are able to participate in.

Here is what a day in the Summer Tour Plus 2016 program looked like:

1. Japanese Game Show: the volunteers engage the campers in a slideshow of various Japanese tools and objects, guessing their true meanings of utility, after watching a clip from a real live game show!

2.Art Gallery Tour: the docents give the campers a unique and peaceful tour of Hiromi Moneyhun’s paper cut exhibition, where they learn about her unique art style and its main elements – metamorphosis and symmetry.

3. Shadow Art: Kirigami: the volunteers teach the campers how to create the own paper cuts (known in Japanese as kirigami)! The campers use scissors and hole-punchers to create unique designs and patterns into their canvas’, which is a moth – a strong representation of both symmetry and metamorphosis.

4. Docents’ Choice: the docents choose an activity of their own discretion to educate the campers about! For instance, during the week of the Star Festival (also known as Tanabata), which occurs on July 7th, the children learned about the history behind the festival and wrote a wish on a strip of paper attached to string (known as tanzaku) and then tied them to a bamboo tree for the wish to come true! Click here to learn more about Tanabata.img_1743

Each camp that visited Morikami participated in all four of these activities at some time or another during their day. In each rotation, the campers were motivated and supported by volunteers and docents alike to pursue a passion in learning to appreciate the very diverse and beautiful culture of Japan. The Summer Tour Plus Program created by Morikami strongly reflects the museum’s mission to the community…”to provide authentic Japanese cultural experiences that entertain, educate, and inspire.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my volunteer experience as a summer intern at Morikami, as it was everything I expected it to be and more! It was amazing to see children of all ages and cultural backgrounds learning about a very historic and unique culture through different activities, and excel at participating in every way. Such a successful experience does not go without thanking all of the staff, docents, and volunteers involved in creating such an enriching and lasting experience!

img_1880-e1475684592620Morikami is always looking for volunteers to help out on a day-to-day basis, as well as for festivals or a variety of programs. During the time we waited for the camps to arrive, we volunteers would work on creating decorations for upcoming festivals. We made paper chains, tissue paper flowers, and paper lanterns all to help prepare for the upcoming Lantern Festival: In the Spirit of Obon! If you have a passion for education, culture, or anything Japan, I highly recommend you take an opportunity and offer your time to this amazing non-profit institution. You will receive a timeless experience for the time that you give! Click here to find out about your possible opportunities~!  \(^.^)

さようなら。! (Sayōnara!)

Thousands Celebrate the Night at Dark Sky Festival

It’s not often we get a chance to turn down the lights and take in the beauty that the night sky has to offer. On Saturday, February 27, over 2,000 Palm Beach County residents, tourists, adults, kids, and nature lovers alike did just that – for free – at the fourth annual Dark Sky Festival.

People of all ages visited Palm Beach County’s Okeeheelee Nature Center from 6-10 p.m. to escape the glowing lights we are so often bombarded by, to gaze at the stars, learn about animals, and enjoy the peacefulness of the dark while having fun with their friends, family, and loved ones.

Campfire, animals, movies & more!

The night was filled with opportunities for visitors to roam the grounds, enjoying the DSC_0036
darkness. Indoors, owls, snakes, lizards and turtles gave animal lovers a chance to learn about the animals that depend on the dark for survival. Curious kids took turns dissecting owl pellets, and visitors of all ages learned about owls and bats through presentations from passionate experts.

Outdoors, active guests enjoyed guided nature hikes through the dark, while others gazed at stars and planets through telescopes. An outdoor classroom allowed guests to soak in the beauty of the night sky, while listening to campfire stories and eating s’mores.

Benji Studt, the Environmental Program Supervisor with Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management, taught a workshop that introduced participants to Palm Beach County’s natural areas and the photographic and recreational opportunities that lay right outside our front doors. “I introduced participants to some tools to improve their composition skills,” said Studt.

IMG_3975_PSStudt then handed the workshop over to local artist and FAU student Max Jackson, who taught the class about techniques to photograph the night sky. After the presentation, the class enjoyed Jackson’s new short film, “Pitch Black Light, A Journey Through America’s Darkest Skies”, which shows time-lapse footage of the stars passing by iconic landscapes from across the country.  The film is a compilation of footage over the last two years, when Jackson spent his summers chasing the darkest skies in the country.  Watch “Pitch Black Light, A Journey Through America’s Darkest Skies” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQdijzuCe3A

 What is light pollution?

Seeing_Stars_Poster

The goal of the event was to teach visitors about the negative affects of light pollution and to encourage better practices with lighting. Guided night hikes, a campfire and s’mores, outdoor movies, photography workshops, bat and owl presentations, live wildlife exhibits, among other activities, helped guests appreciate the darkness.

Light pollution is the “introduction of artificial light into the environment”. The event focused on the impacts of light pollution, and the benefits of having natural night skies. Excessive light pollution threatens humans and many animals, including sea turtles, owls, bats, and others that depend on the dark sky for survival. Excessive light pollution may also waste electricity and destroy the beauty of the night sky.

Why should we “turn down the lights”?

DSC_0056Various experts, photographers, and astronomers were on hand Saturday to explain the dangers of light pollution.

“Turning down the lights helps us all,” said Studt. According to Studt, light pollution impacts a variety of animals. “The natural light provided by the night sky gives sea turtle hatchlings the ability to find the ocean when they hatch.”

Furthermore, Studt explained that migratory birds use the night sky as a roadmap to their seasonal destinations, and humans feel effects to their circadian rhythm as a result of light pollution.

“We are literally losing our stars because of light pollution,” said Callie Sharkey, manager at Okeeheelee Nature Center, who also cited research that links artificial light to breast cancer, while Studt explained, “artificial light pollution is now being linked to human disorders such as obesity and depression.”

What can you do to help?

 In addition to educating the public on the effect of light pollution, the event aimed to increase awareness on what steps can be taken to help fix the problem. You can start helping today:

  1. Check your home lights – is glare hiding potential intruders? Do your lights shine down, or out and up where energy is wasted?
  1. Turn off unnecessary lights – and use motion sensor switches for effective deterrence.
  1. Shield and lower lights, and use dark-sky friendly fixtures.
  1. Spread the word – tell businesses when you see that their lights are bad. Bad lights aren’t just unpleasant, they’re harmful, especially in coastal areas where turtles nest.

An annual event

 Each year, thousands of enthused visitors make their way to Okeeheelee Nature Center to gaze at the stars and learn about what they can do to make the night sky more visible for humans and animals the depend on it. “We had people from all ages and demographics, and the response is overwhelmingly positive…people were impressed with how unique the event was,” said Sharkey.DSC_0015

This annual event is one of the largest dark sky events in the country; it was made possible through a partnership between the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Environmental Resources Management Department, International Dark-Sky Association, among others.

For more information on how you can help fix the problem of light pollution, please visit the International Dark-Sky Association, www.darksky.org.

View photos on Flickr

This slideshow requires JavaScript.